resources on the Japanese American incarceration & for supporting AAPI communities
last updated: February 19, 2023
Welcome, friends. This blogpost is an ongoing compilation of resources to learn more about Executive Order 9066, and the displacement and incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent in the Unites States of America in 1942. My plan is for this blogpost to become a living document that I'll add to whenever I discover new resources, so please feel free to bookmark it for future reference. I've also included some resources for supporting, celebrating, and amplifying Asian voices through the media sources we consume.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 & JAPANESE AMERICAN INCARCERATION
Japanese American Citizens League Events // Local events in Bay Area, Northern California, Southern California, Central California, Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, Intermountain, Midwest, and East Coast.
Densho's The Past is Not Past: Japanese American WWII Incarceration and the Yonsei Generation // “In what ways do you feel the incarceration has impacted your own life?” That’s the question posed in Dr. Donna Nagata’s recent survey of nearly 500 Yonsei descendants of WWII incarceration. Their responses show that the past is anything but over, and that the incarceration continues to impact Yonsei identity, career choices, and much more. In the first major public event for the Yonsei Project, Dr. Nagata will share her preliminary findings and interpretations. She will be joined in conversation by Dr. Satsuki Ina, Brandon Shimoda, and Daryn Wakasa.
Los Angeles Day of Remembrance Event // The annual Los Angeles Day of Remembrance commemorates the signing of Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Executive Order 9066 authorized the US military to remove persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast and set into motion their incarceration into concentration camps during World War II. This year’s theme, Uniting Our Voices: Making Democracy Work for All, illustrates how individuals and communities are powerful when they come together in support of one another and how democracy is only as strong as those who fight for it.
American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War
by Duncan Ryuken Williams
This groundbreaking history tells the little-known story of how, in one of our country’s darkest hours, Japanese Americans fought to defend their faith and preserve religious freedom. In the face of discrimination, dislocation, dispossession, and confinement, Japanese Americans turned to their faith to sustain them, whether they were behind barbed wire in camps or serving in one of the most decorated combat units in the European theater. Using newly translated sources and extensive interviews with survivors of the camps and veterans of the war, American Sutra reveals how the Japanese American community broadened our country’s conception of religious freedom and forged a new American Buddhism. The mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II is not only a tale of injustice; it is a moving story of faith. Even as they were stripped of their homes and imprisoned in camps, Japanese American Buddhists launched one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom in our nation’s history, insisting that they could be both Buddhist and American. Nearly all Americans of Japanese descent were subject to bigotry and accusations of disloyalty, but Buddhists aroused particular suspicion. Government officials believed that Buddhism was incompatible with American values. Intelligence agencies targeted the Buddhist community for surveillance, and Buddhist priests were deemed a threat to national security. On December 7, 1941, as the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Attorney General Francis Biddle issued a warrant to “take into custody all Japanese” classified as potential national security threats. The first person detained was Bishop Gikyō Kuchiba, leader of the Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist sect in Hawai‘i. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
A Place to Belong
by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Julia Kuo
In Kadohata's novel, a Japanese American family, reeling from their ill treatment in the Japanese imprisonment camps, gives up their American citizenship to move back to Hiroshima, unaware of the devastation wreaked by the atomic bomb in this piercing and all too relevant look at the aftermath of World War II by Newbery Medalist, Cynthia Kadohata. Purchase on Bookshop,org.
Two Nails, One Love by Alden M. Hayashi
Hayashi's novel opens in New York City with the narrator-Ethan Taniguchi, a Japanese-American gay man in his early forties-awaiting the arrival of his mother from Hawaii. The two have been estranged for more than a decade, and the reunion is fraught with past grievances bubbling to the surface. After a fateful ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, Ethan's mother reluctantly reveals details of her shattered childhood-her family's imprisonment in a concentration camp in Arkansas in World War II, followed by a deportation to Japan, where she witnesses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Ethan's past is also revealed-painful memories of a forsaken career in music and a delayed coming out at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Eventually, both mother and son come to understand the complex and subtle ways that their lives are intertwined, with the past reverberating powerfully through the present. Purchase from Eastwind Books of Bookstore.
When Can We Go Back to America? | by Susan H. Kamei
In this dramatic and page-turning narrative history of Japanese Americans before, during, and after their World War II incarceration, Susan H. Kamei weaves the voices of over 130 individuals who lived through this tragic episode, most of them as young adults. In what Secretary Norman Y. Mineta describes as a “landmark book,” he and others who lived through this harrowing experience tell the story of their incarceration and the long-term impact of this dark period in American history. For the first time, why and how these tragic events took place are interwoven with more than 130 individual voices of those who were unconstitutionally incarcerated, many of them children and young adults. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
Written and illustrated by Miné Okubo, introduction by Christine Hong
Miné Okubo was one of over one hundred thousand people of Japanese descent -nearly two-thirds of whom were American citizens- who were forced into "protective custody" shortly after Pearl Harbor. Citizen 13660, Okubo's graphic memoir of life in relocation centers in California and Utah, illuminates this experience with poignant illustrations and witty, candid text. Now available with a new introduction by Christine Hong and in a wide-format, paperback artist edition, this graphic novel can reach a new generation of readers and scholars. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
by Kiku Hughes
A teenager is pulled back in time to witness her grandmother's experiences in World War II-era Japanese internment camps in Displacement, a historical graphic novel from artist and writer, Kiku Hughes. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker
Takei's firsthand account of the years he spent behind barbed wire at the Rohwer internment camp, the terrors and small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration
by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura, illustrated by Ross Ishikawa
In this groundbreaking graphic novel the story of America’s concentration camps is presented as you've never seen it before. While they complied when evicted from their homes in 1942, many refused to submit to imprisonment without a fight. Based upon painstaking research, We Hereby Refuse presents an original vision of America's past with disturbing links to the American present. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
In 1942, Executive Order 9066 mandated the incarceration of 110,000 Japanese Americans, including men, women, children, the elderly, and the infirm, for the duration of the war. Allowed only what they could carry, they were given just a few days to settle their affairs and report to assembly centers. Businesses were lost, personal property was stolen or vandalized, and lives were shattered. The Japanese word gaman means "enduring what seems unbearable with dignity and grace. "Imprisoned in remote camps surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers with machine guns, the internees sought courage and solace in art. Using found materials at first and later what they could order by catalog, they whittled and carved, painted and etched, stitched and crocheted. What they created is a celebration of the nobility of the human spirit under adversity. The Art of Gaman presents more than 150 examples of art created by internees, along with a history of the camps. Buying options for The Art of Gaman.
by Jerry Takigawa
The work of a multi award-winning photography series about the artist’s family’s experience with the WWII American concentration camps. This project presented an opportunity to confront the racism perpetrated on the Japanese that resulted in their confinement in the American concentration camps sanctioned by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 issued on February 19, 1942. Awakened by a discovery of old family photographs, taken in the Jerome, Arkansas camp, Takigawa was compelled to speak out in deference to his parents’ silence on the matter. Creating a visual journey through transitory collaged photographs using artifacts, documents, and memories resulted in a unique telling of one family’s journey from immigration to incarceration, re-integration, and re-assimilation. Balancing Cultures personifies a dark collective memory—long censored by the fear that if their voices were too loud, “it” might happen again. This work is important today because “it” is happening again. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
Moving Walls: The Barracks Of America’s Concentration Camps
by Sharon Yamato, photography by Stan Honda
This is an updated edition of the 1994 book chronicling the moving of two Heart Mountain barracks to the Japanese American National Museum. An all-new section details what happened to the barracks after the camp was closed, featuring interviews with homesteaders who acquired the once-temporary buildings for a dollar each, and still live in and use them today. Over 30 new photographs by Stan Honda feature present-day views of the former camp. The book delves into the intersection of the mass detention and the local Wyoming population at a time when race and ethnicity continue to raise questions about issues surrounding immigration and civil rights. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
All That Remains: The Legacy of the World War II Japanese American Internment Camps by Delphine Hirasuna
The second edition of the Obsessions book series is on the arts and crafts made by Japanese Americans held in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. All That Remains is a sequel to Delphine Hirasuna's 2005 book titled The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942–1946. While working on that book, she spent many hours reflecting on why people banished by their own country to barrack encampments fenced in by barbed wire and guarded by soldiers with rifles pointed at them would take up art with such a fervor that it became an obsession to them. This small tome selects some of the vast body of work that was produced by the incarcerated Japanese and Japanese Americans. There is a particularly moving object, a handmade toy train, that is depicted in a centerfold in the book. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
The Cat Who Chose to Dream
by Loriene Honda, illustrated by Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani
The story of a cat's choice to be incarcerated at a World War II prison camp as a gesture of loving support to the Japanese American family to whom he belongs. We witness through the cat's eyes the devastating condition of the camp, as well as the sense of injustice he feels seeing his family go through this demoralizing experience. Young readers also share in the cat's triumph over feelings of hopelessness and anger, as they witness the cat's use of breathing and visualization exercises that help transport his creative mind to a place in his heart where he no longer feels encumbered and restrained, but self-empowered and free. Through the beautiful artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, and the inclusion of therapeutic relaxation and visualization techniques, child psychologist Loriene Honda demonstrates how the imaginative mind can prove to be one's most powerful tool in surpassing adversity. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.
Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire
by Loriene Honda, illustrated by Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani
The story of a cat's choice to be incarcerated at a World War II prison camp as a gesture of loving support to the Japanese American family to whom he belongs. We witness through the cat's eyes the devastating condition of the camp, as well as the sense of injustice he feels seeing his family go through this demoralizing experience. Young readers also share in the cat's triumph over feelings of hopelessness and anger, as they witness the cat's use of breathing and visualization exercises that help transport his creative mind to a place in his heart where he no longer feels encumbered and restrained, but self-empowered and free. Through the beautiful artwork of Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, and the inclusion of therapeutic relaxation and visualization techniques, child psychologist Loriene Honda demonstrates how the imaginative mind can prove to be one's most powerful tool in surpassing adversity. Support the Japanese American National Museum with your purchase.https://janmstore.com/products/desert-diary?_pos=4&_sid=ed186a73a&_ss=r
The Japanese Arts Network (JA-NE) is a national resource for artistic collaboration and connection. They provide access to resources and develop programs and platforms that support and strengthen visibility for JaJA (Japanese and Japanese-American) Artists in America who create with ‘cultural intention’ and are vital to society. We are dedicated to bringing together artists, communities, and stakeholders by celebrating and advancing Japanese arts experiences in America. IG: @japaneseartsnetwork | YouTube: japaneseartsnetwork | Patreon: @japaneseartsnetwork
Lauren Iida | Paper cut-away artist Her main medium is intricately hand-cut paper, often incorporating layers of ink washed paper and focusing on negative space and shadow play. Her solo show, Citizen’s Indefinite Leave, is a series of intricate paper cutaways incorporating historical scenes from the unjust incarceration of 126,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the USA during World War II. With the assistance from Seattle-based organization, Densho, Iida was able to dive deeper into her own family’s history and create a narrative exhibition that explores questions of citizenship, belonging and home. IG: @laureniidastudio | FB: /laureniidastudio
Visual Artist Talk Event Video Recording | Hosted by Japanese American National Museum
Tenacious and prolific, Japanese American artist Miné Okubo continued perfecting her art even as war intervened twice during the early years of her promising career. Okubo is acclaimed for Citizen13660, a book of her 198 drawings revealing life inside a temporary Bay Area detention center and an Utah concentration camp where she was incarcerated with thousands of other Japanese during World War II. It was the first book about the American concentration camp experience by a former prisoner. Okubo’s work has influenced many Japanese American artists up to the present day, whether through her practice, style, or dedication to documenting the truth about the world around her. In this interactive virtual discussion and workshop, presented virtually on January 29, 2022, and moderated by Rose Keiko Higa, artists Kiku Hughes, MariNaomi, and Yumi Sakugawa shared how they are inspired by Miné. Watch event recording on YouTube
Densho Project Preserving Japanese American stories of the past for the generations of tomorrow. Densho documents the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy and promote equal justice for all. Densho is a Japanese term meaning “to pass on to the next generation,” or to leave a legacy. The legacy we offer is an American story with ongoing relevance: during World War II, the United States government incarcerated innocent people solely because of their ancestry. IG: @denshoproject | FB: /denshoproject | T: @denshoproject
Learn about Japanese American Incarcration: Resources for independent learners of all ages who are looking to expand their knowledge of WWII incarceration and related cases of xenophobia and racism.
Self-Guided Student Learning: Short videos and learning activities for middle and high school students to do independently or as part of a class assignment, as well as resources for conducting research on WWII incarceration.
The mission of the Japanese American National Museum is to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. As the national repository of Japanese American history, JANM creates groundbreaking historical and arts exhibitions, educational public programs, award-winning documentaries, and innovative curriculum that illuminate the stories and the rich cultural heritage of people of Japanese ancestry in the United States. JANM also speaks out when diversity, individual dignity and social justice are undermined, vigilantly sharing the hard-fought lessons accrued from this history. Its underlying purpose is to transform lives, create a more just America and, ultimately, a better world. IG: @jamuseum | FB: /jamuseum | T: @jamuseum
Educational Resources: Activities and resources for learners of all ages that make learning about the Japanese American experience engaging and exciting. Resources include printable offline activities, origami videos, web resources and lessons, printable curriculum, and more.
Educator Workshops: Collaborating with educators to share the Japanese American experience with students is an important part of furthering our mission. JANM offers professional development workshops for classroom teachers and other educators.
Letting things speak. Material objects have a special resonance for Americans of Japanese ancestry. When an entire racial group was banned from the West Coast during World War II, an ocean of objects was lost forever. Emiko Omori, a Poston survivor, writes, “On February 19, 1942, the signing of Executive Order 9066 made us suspected criminals. There were no trials to argue our innocence . . . homes, fishing boats, farms, tractors, stores, pets — everything we couldn’t bury, burn, sell, carry or store was left behind for the circling vultures.” Once imprisoned in isolated camps, people built survival objects from scratch but when the camps closed, these, too, were often left behind. 50 Objects' goal is to take things that remain and excavate their stories while some memory is still alive. What is the biography of objects that have survived a traumatic period? How do things carry memory? How do they tell the stories of people’s lives? We hoped to put a face on objects and animate the inanimate. In recovering these stories, we hope to honor the people who lived them. IG: @50objectsnikkei | FB: /50objectsnikkei | T: @50objectsnikkei
A network of individual activists, organizers, and families working to engage the broader Japanese American community in the movement to Close the Camps, ensure the injustice our community experienced during WWII never happens again, and actively stand in solidarity with people of color who continue to face racism and discrimination.
Nikkei Progressives is a grassroots, all-volunteer, multi-generational community organization. We formed in late 2016 partially in response to the Trump Administration’s expected attacks on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, immigrants, and other minority groups and in recognition of the need to offer support and resistance. We care deeply about issues of justice and fairness within the Japanese American community and beyond. IG: @nikkeiprogressives | FB: /nikkeiprogressives | T: @nikkeiprogress
Stop Asian Hate
Combatting anti-Asian hate and racism through information, advocacy, and action.
A community-driven initiative working to ensure a healthy, equitable, and culturally rich Little Tokyo for generations to come. IG: @sustainablelittletokyo | FB: /nikkeiprogressives | T: @nikkeiprogress
A nonviolent, direct-action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. We stand on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered the atrocities and legacy of U.S. concentration camps during WWII and we say, “Stop Repeating History!” TFS's mission is to educate, advocate, and protest to close all U.S. concentration camps; build solidarity with other communities of color that have experienced forced removal, detention, deportation, separation of families, and other forms of racial and state violence; coordinate intergenerational, cross-community healing circles addressing the trauma of our shared histories. IG: @tsuruforsolidarity | FB: /tsuruforsolidarity | T: @tsuruforsolidarity
Campu: Podcast | Campu tells the story of Japanese American incarceration like you’ve never heard it before. Follow along as brother-sister duo Noah and Hana Maruyama weave together the voices of survivors to spin narratives out of the seemingly mundane things that gave shape to the incarceration experience.
SUPPORTING AAPI COMMUNITIES
AAPI stories go untold and unreported in most primary news outlets. Here are some media outlets who seek to amplify Asian representation and voices:
AsianFeed | A media publication amplifying Asian stories.
Next Shark | NextShark is a leading source covering Asian and Asian American news including business, culture, entertainment, politics, tech, and lifestyle, and strives to provide the best, up-to-date coverage for our communities all over the world. IG: @nextshark | FB: /nextshark | T: @nextshark | YouTube: Next Shark Channel
RepresentASIAN Project | A Canadian platform dedicated to celebrating, advocating and elevating Asian representation and voices in media and beyond.
Very Asian | Media and news company amplifying Asian news, people, and businesses.
Dear Asian Americans | An Asian American podcast by Jerry J. Won for and by Asian Americans, focusing on authentic storytelling rooted in origin, identity, and legacy. Host Jerry Won brings on guests from diverse backgrounds and career paths to celebrate, support, and inspire the Asian American community. New episodes air every Tuesday across all major platforms. IG: @dearasianamericans | FB: /representasianproject | T: @representasianproject
Little Tokyo Little Podcast | A special podcast from your Little Tokyo friends and neighbors! Have a stretch with Rajio Taiso, hear the seasons changing through haiku poems, listen to music from local musicians, and hear cute local news! New episodes every other week.
We Won't Move: A Living Archive Podcast | A podcast series by Kazumi Chin, Dara Del Rosario, and Michelle Lin about APA artists of the past, present, and future, whose stories shape the movements and dreams of San Francisco. Each episode is guided by research and oral histories, featuring intimate conversations with local artists about their art, activism, and the issues that motivate their work. “We Won’t Move” was once the rallying cry of an intergenerational group of protestors fighting to protect the elders of the International Hotel, the first home of Kearny Street Workshop. With this in the podcast title, we commit ourselves to uplifting stories of radical Asian American art history, organizing, and dreaming. “We Won’t Move: A Living Archive” is a project of both remembering our roots and building toward a liberatory future. Where do we remain firmly rooted in across generations, in our spaces, histories, and hearts? What will we refuse to move from?
Slant'd Magazine | Celebrating Asian American identity, one story at a time. An annual anthology-meets-art book is a beautifully curated selection of heartwarming and provocatively-told stories that peel back the layers of the Asian American experience. Each issue centers a relevant theme and features our signature mix of creative non-fiction and visual art as crafted by an incredible group of writers and artists across generations, geographies, and experiences. IG: @slantdcreative
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